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Exploring the Monastic Experience: A Contemplative Retreat for Men

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Lifelong Learning


Date: 5/5/2014

Saint Benedict described a monastery as a “school for the Lord’s service.” Medieval Cistercian monks described the monastery as a “school of charity.” Both of these definitions can help us to discover the unique gifts (charisms) of monasteries, even for those who are not called to become monks. Monasteries are intentional communities devoted to prayer, contemplation, and the gospel; and because hospitality has always been a part of the monastic way, they are ideal settings for non-monastics to explore the heart of Christian spirituality. Our retreat schedule includes a balance of prayer, silent time, presentations, and group discussion. No prior experience at a monastery, or with contemplative prayer, is required. Our goal will be, against the backdrop of the monk’s chanting and the natural beauty of the monastery grounds, to seek God’s still small voice so that we may “be still and know God” in a supportive communal setting.

Facilitator: Carl McColman is the author of Answering the Contemplative Call and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. He is a lay associate of Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. He blogs about Christian spirituality at

Location: St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, AL

Details and Registration